No child is left behind in Mozambique’s vaccination campaign
Leave no child out – UNICEF supports orphans to participate in
“It’s time to go,” Abel tells his 62 year-old grandmother
“Vukoxa told us that we need to be fully protected against this disease,” Leonel explains. Vukoxa supports elderly people like Carolina Sitoe, who care for the growing number of orphaned and vulnerable children in
About 200 children and their mothers are already waiting in front of the school in Lionde, when Abel and Leonel arrive. The two boys move along the queue for measles immunisation. Some babies cry as the needle is injected into their upper arm. Leonel tries to keep cool. But it’s not easy.
The southern provinces are the last to be covered by the vaccination campaign which will finally have covered the whole country - targeting some 8.7 million children. Babies and young children up to five years are immunised against polio, and those aged six to 59 months also receive Vitamin A supplements. The measles vaccination targets all children between nine months and 14 years. There will be a second round of polio immunization has already started in the
The last campaign in 1998 / 1999 only targeted under fives in provincial and district capitals and had limited impact. Consequently the Mozambican Ministry of Health decided to include older children this time round.
In a country that has one of the highest child mortality rates of the world -- 178 out of 1,000 children die before reaching five -- measles epidemics still occur regularly here. The last major epidemic was registered in the provinces of Tete and Sofala in 2002/2003.
This current campaign in
It all started with
NGOs like Vukoxa (“the elderly” in the local language Shangana) put out the word to the families they support. Most of the 400 children in their care have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS. Gaza province is particularly hard hit by the epidemic with 19.9% of the population aged 15 to 49 living with the virus, compared to a national average of 16.2%.
“Yesterday our neighbour was buried,” Leonel replies when asked about what he knows about HIV/AIDS. “She had AIDS. Her husband already died before.” The women left a 16 year old girl 11 year old boy behind. The two children are next on Vukoxa’s list to be visited. The NGO will assess the needs of the children, and try to find out whether they can stay with other relatives. If necessary, they will provide the children with clothes, school uniforms, bags, notebooks and pens.
The regular visits that Vukoxa makes to Abel and Leonel mean a great deal to the small family. The boys have been living with their granny since their parents died in an accident twelve years ago. Their special day ends on a high note when they proudly present their vaccination cards with the photo of Lurdes Mutola to their grandmother. “She is a great runner,” Abel says with a big smile.